A toddler in an emotionally explosive and unstable family has her leg amputated. In spite of significant hurdles, she powers through to become a successful career woman and equally successful single parent.
These are trying times. We are headed into territories not seen since the 1930's. I have spent hundreds of hours listening to stories of the Great Depression, and reading more. What this tells me is we can do this. Be the bobber. A bobber floats on water - floats in all sorts of heavy seas. Gets washed over and jostled mightily in storms, sometimes turned feet under the surface. But the bobber always manages to rise to the surface. It rises to the surface, that is, unless it cracks and lets in the weight of the water. Don't let the weight of the times infiltrate into your psyche. Be the bobber. Rise to the surface. Always.
My son suggested I write this book. And as I approached the project, I started the tale with an intricate portrait of a child's life. It is slow; it is nuanced. It is this way because I wanted a backdrop against which subsequent events could be contrasted. The innocent childhood became abused; this child's self esteem took a beating. Took a beating, but did not die. This is a story akin to a phoenix - a rising from the ashes to raise children without visiting the "sins of the father" upon her own children. A phoenix that flew - maybe not as high as others would have, but remarkably high nevertheless, given the tethers placed around her ankles. This story starts out as an unopened flower. It takes a while, but the flower eventually blooms.
Several years ago I was in Carlsbad California and we went to the beach. There is a massive concrete seawall there, with a long ramp up and down. At the foot of the seawall is a sandy beach - not terribly deep - upon which, at the time, the waves of the Pacific were gently lapping. There was a child building a sandcastle. How very iconic. That got me thinking about what happens to that sandcastle when the wind starts to blow, even fairly gently. Between the breeze and the surf, that sandcastle doesn't stand much of a chance. That seawall, however - as huge as it was, I think it could withstand anything the wind and sea could throw at it. Some people are sandcastles. The least irritation: someone that is not paying attention to a light turning green; someone that has more than fifteen items in their grocery cart in the fast checkout lane... you name it. Small potatoes stuff. Some people get bent all out of shape. They are sandcastles. Be the seawall.
It wasn't enough to leave college for a sea-faring adventure, headed around the world.... no, within the first several hours we were hit by an international commercial freighter, piloted by an Englishman, that missed the west-bound channel and collided with us. That was a telling omen.
I worked at General Motors fro fourteen years. I ended up at Corporate, filling positions in the Treasurer's office, the Comptroller's staff, and in strategy. I had access to all sorts of data. About thirteen years before GM finally declared bankruptcy we (strategy) told them they were in deep shit. We told them their financial decisions were not based upon facts and analysis. We told them that their vaunted Harvard grad MBAs in New York did things like develop the income statement starting at the bottom: this is EPS, so let's work upwards to figure out income and expense. Instead of righting the ship, the strategy department was disbanded. That ostrich really, really had its head in the sand.
I never would have guessed just how carefully orchestrated corporate events could be - and I am sure that politics works the same way. For public events, executives, and probably politicians, are nothing more than talking heads. The minions that ply the talking heads with answers -- the minions the do all of the research and develop recommended approaches and answers -- they are the silent gears and pistons and drive shafts and universals that power these public events. They are young, they are bright... and they are nameless.
I was a navigator on a 110-ft Dutch coastal freighter for six months. Yes I was - not on a commercial navigator, mind you, but, nevertheless, a navigator that had learned both Loran C and celestial navigation. I still have the sextant and the old, oil-fueled starboard light. Who would have thought that a 19-year old, 5'4 female college student, disabled at that, would climb aboard? Yes, I did.
It's quite difficult to stay away from the message of gratitude. It's everywhere. It is true that those that feel grateful are happier people - at least, that's what science says. I have been advised to practice gratitude, but it has always rung a bit hollow for me. I realized that is the case because of my definition of gratitude... to me, gratitude stems from an unexpected and unearned kindness or situation that one finds themselves in. It is above and beyond what a person has earned. So I have had a very hard time with that, because I have earned most everything. However, what I CAN practice is appreciation. It doesn't matter what it is, or how it came to be. I can appreciate that which I have earned, and I can appreciate kindnesses shown. It makes me live in the moment. I can appreciate my beautiful backyard. I can appreciate a wonderful dinner. I can appreciate a clean and beautiful home. I can pay attention and just drink it all in. And that, to me, is as good as gratitude. It leaves me warm, smiling, and content.
My first-born was six weeks early... but she was so beautiful! She had curly, dark hair and big eyes. I had sung to her throughout my pregnancy, and the moment I spoke it was obvious she recognized my voice. Talk about falling in love. She died within the day. I cannot begin to describe the heart-wrenching pain I felt. To this day, there are no words to fully convey the despair. It left me emotionally unavailable for anything or anyone else for a good two years. It is astounding that humans get through the experience.
It took me over fifty years to actually speak that statement aloud. It is a difficult thing to accept. And when an emotionally impaired parent has a physically disabled child, the consequences can be profound. To this day, I cannot, with perfect certainty, say that the resolve I used to rise above a panoply of other challenges thrown my way through the years was in spite of my childhood, or because of it.
Yes, really. A 110-foot, looks-like-King-Kong-type freighter. Amazing choice for a 5'4", 19-year-old leg amputee with a malformed right arm. A ship's navigator.
A trio of authors - Andrew Charles Lark, Donald Levin, and Wendy Sura Thomson - produced this dystopian anthology. Andrew Lark’s “Pollen” is a riveting, multiple point-of-view account of a strange atmospheric phenomenon that destroys humankind’s ability to reproduce, ushering in the extinction of our species. Donald Levin’s “The Bright and Darkened Lands of the Earth” is a gripping tale set in a desperate, post-apocalyptic future where a heroic woman battles ecological and social collapse in an effort to save her tribe—and humanity—from certain annihilation. Wendy Sura Thomson’s “Silo Six” is a suspenseful story of love and survival set far into the future, when the sun begins its transformation into a red giant and scorches the earth into a virtually uninhabitable cinder.
It takes a certain sort of strong will to take off into a land where the only other living things - including plants and animals - are deranged and violent, slowly dying men. The suggestion that longer term survival for the tribe is possible is such a strong motivator for our protagonist, Ash. The author of the second novella in this anthology has written a sequel explaining the death of the woman Ash happens upon in the beginning of this clip. If you enjoyed this story, please look up Donald Levin's book, The Exile.
In the novella Pollen, included within this anthology, an extraterrestrial culture has decided that there is a fatal flaw in humanity and takes it upon itself to end humans as we know them. It does it painlessly, but it ends us nevertheless. All except Mr. Quinn, who was not affected by a prior extraterrestrial visit. This is an intriguing flight of fancy that shows different, though very human, reactions through the lens of journal entries that our Mr. Quinn collects. You'll want to read this.
Mayhem can ensue when throngs of people, panicked, react without rational thinking and engage their emotion-driven survival mode. This scene describes humankind's final attempt at leaving for a distant colony.
Our heroine Ash doesn't have any experience beyond minute-to-minute survival - until she spends some time with the elder, Odile. She has not had the luxury of deep deliberation... and so, when told that a third journey for the survival of the tribe is necessary, Ash just leaves with what she can carry. Bare-bones survival fades in favor of compassion, though, when she stumbles upon Mae. Even in desolate times, the human range of emotions can exist and be demonstrated. That's a decent definition of humanity.
There has been much written about the explosion of humankind on Earth. In Pollen, author Andrew Lark speaks to rapid depopulation and the entropic effect that could have on societal structure. Just imagine watching it, and being able to do absolutely nothing about it. Rather terrifying.
In my last bubble I spoke of the darker side of human behavior... but not everyone reacts the same. I believe that when faced with the worst, there are those that react with kindness and grace. This passage reflects that grace and kindness.
I guess it's not very unusual for many people to trample on everyone and everything else when their own survival is at stake. There are many that become hard and cold, dispensing with any shred of compassion that may have held. Leaders have to have at least some of that hardness to become leaders. What general in the army hasn't sent young men and women into combat, coldly calculating the possible/acceptable casualty rate? What manager hasn't laid employees off, even knowing that among those were families that may have a child on the way? Or that a spouse was in the hospital? Or that is was almost Christmas? It's a sad commentary on the human condition.
Take three published authors and present a premise: imagine the end of humanity. The three have taken different roads; different times, different circumstances... but the one thing they have in common: the stories are thought-provoking and riveting. And although the three didn't compare notes, all three share the integral importance of the written word.
The author of Bright and Darkened Lands of the Earth, Donald Levin, wanted to emphasize the immediacy of his characters' daily struggle to simply survive another day. I find it a very arresting and effective convention, given the desolate world he has painted. It grabs you from the first sentence.
Three postcards pinpoint the date of your extinction. Are you brave enough to read them? Donald Levin pictures a bleak landscape. His characters struggle for mere survival. This tale features two main characters: Ash, a lowly gatherer, and Odile, the tribal leader. These two live underground in a overwhelmingly female society. Men, topside, have been ravaged by war, pestilence and radiation. An intensely told story ensues.
Andrew Lark's Pollen centers on an extraterrestrial interference with human's life on Earth. It's a riveting tale told via various characters' journal entries. Enter for a change to win this book over at Amazon - we are running a giveaway that ends October 12. No purchase necessary: go over and try your luck!
As I thought about what life might look like thousands of years in the future, it occurred to me that, short of extinction, people would start to resemble one another more and more. If they lived underground, they would become fairer and fairer as they were denied exposure to sunlight. It was an interesting exercise.
Here's another teaser, this time from Andrew Charles Lark's novella, Pollen. A fascinating tale, told as snippet's from diaries and other notes found by the protagonist as he wandered around a much different United States. The events unfold via the differing perspectives of the various journal authors. Fascinating.
A wonderful fellow author wrote The Bright and Darkened Lands of the Earth, which appears as the second story in this anthology. His tale is set in a post-apocalyptic Canada and features as its protagonist a young woman named Ash. Enjoy!
"Postcards From the Future was a fascinating read. I literally couldn’t put the book down, and that doesn’t happen often. I loved that even in the future books would still be around; all three stories showed how powerful books can be. I also loved how they showed that even in the most gruesome living arrangement, there is always hope and hope can be powerful as well. Pollen by Andrew C. Lark had a couple of great twists at the end, though I was sad to realize there wasn’t more to the story. And Donald Levin’s The Bright and Darkened Lands of the Earth may have a trigger warning as one of the heroines, Ash, gets attacked by men, but it’s well written and not too gory, which I appreciated it. I loved Ash’s spunk and determination. The ending was hopeful but left you wondering and hoping there will be a sequel. Wendy’s Sura Thomson’s Silo Six is probably my favorite of the three. The ending was sad but beautiful at the same time. If you love stories that deal with humanity possibly ending and seeing how or if they overcome it, then this is a great read. It will leave you wondering about a lot of things." - Renee Guill, Readers Favorite
This, just received from Readers' Favorite: "Though they are not thematically intended to be connected to one another, the timeline of these dark and inviting tales makes for some cohesion in the reading as we wander from disaster to survival, then back to the ultimate end of all things... The entire team of Andrew C Lark, Donald Levin, and Wendy Sura Thomson writes with excellent suspense and a sense of control over the worlds which they have created (or destroyed), and their characters emote through dialogue and well-described action to build an atmosphere on every page. Overall, Postcards From The Future: A Triptych on Humanity’s End is an excellent collection which is certain to entertain fans of the dystopian and post-apocalyptic genres."
This dystopian work features three novellas: (1) Pollen, by Andrew Charles Lark, (2) The Bright and Darkened Lands of the Earth by Donald Levin, and (3) Silo Six by... me. This book officially launches on November 2, but I thought I would whet your respective appetites by giving you a glimpse of my far-in-the-future world. Many dystopian novels assume societal chaos and disintegration: mine goes in the opposite direction, where life is highly and intricately controlled. Enter with me, then, as we go underground.
Maggie Fraser met the man of her dreams one day in New York City. She had never been happier - until tragedy struck, sending her into an emotional tailspin. Her recovery was rudely interrupted by her accidental possession of a mysterious and ancient amulet.What was this amulet? And why was she being pursued for it? Travel with Maggie as she criss-crosses multiple countries unraveling the secrets of the amulet and searching for the inner peace, acceptance, and personal direction that had been so disrupted.
People have asked me this question. The best I can come up with is that it bubbled up surreptitiously. I wanted a cat-and-mouse story; I wanted an historical angle, I wanted to call upon places I know. I wanted a protagonist that was "normal"... I didn't want some super-human, Mossad-trained kick-ass woman. I wanted a clever woman with no extraordinary physical training. I wanted a tender woman forced to survive intrigue while recovering from a very unexpected and deep-felt loss. The operative question here: could I have pulled this off?
It's a long journey from grief to the peace of acceptance and the strength and will to go on. Sometimes it comes like a turned-on lightbulb: sometimes it creeps up on someone so they barely notice the gradual change. Sometimes it comes with a final, bittersweet gesture that signifies closure. The important part of the process is getting through it, however someone processes loss. The true tragedy is when the process never completes.
Our heroine Maggie, having successfully escaped those that were after her - twice - finally returns to New York and safety. Lots on her mind.... and this excerpt tidily describes the questions and challenges ahead of her.
It's not hard to take a flight of fancy with the spies and agents of government agencies: loads of books have been written about them. I actually shared an office with a summer intern once, whose husband worked for the CIA. He shared an office with an agent with no name and no documented history - that officemate was a total ghost. Given that I was told that such ghosts actually exist, I let my imagination describe the creation of a "new" person. Quite an entertaining exercise, and not a terrible stretch of the imagination.
People often speak of closure after tragedy. It shows up on the evening news frequently... looking for a missing person (or body). Seeing a perpetrator caught. I think that, sometimes, people confuse retribution for closure. To me, closure is that moment where the last piece of the puzzle is placed where is belongs. There is nothing left to question or ponder - the deceased has had a proper burial, or the lost child is found, or the criminal has been tried, found guilty, and is remanded to jail. When there are no loose ends to tie up, a person can move on. It's a healing process... a healthy process. Life does go on. It is our job to accommodate the shock/loss/damage and go forward - go forward without losing the love we are capable of giving. Go forward without losing the compassion and kindness that may have been taken advantage of. Go forward, sometimes alone, realizing that our partner or parent would want us to find joy, even without them. Go forward, maintaining appreciation for the beauty around us and the kindness we have been shown.
The primary antagonist in The Third Order was modeled after my now-deceased neighbor. I had never met anyone like him before: from the way he kept his home, it was obvious he was a hoarder. I also was surprised when he randomly chuckled in the middle of sentences. Very odd. He was driven by several compulsive drives, needing to write down the amount of rain that fell every day. Writing down when and where he bought gas, driven to put in exactly $10 a pop. He had little black books, one for weather, one for gasoline - maybe more for other obsessions - that went back for years and years. And near the end, in the middle of a sentence, he let his thought drift off. He paused, as if he had totally forgotten what he was saying, and then recited the rosary. Sad but alarming... I had to call the police on him for discharging a firearm in the backyard. And for being Peeping Tom. There are strange people among us - my character would have felt right at home.
Whenever I want to generate a nice warm fire inside on an otherwise cold emotional day, I can think back to the wonderful times I have been in love. Those memories never cease to make me smile... it's like my emotions curl up in a warm, fuzzy blanket, knees up, sipping a nice cup of hot cocoa. It never ceases to work.
A little bit love story, a little bit cat-and-mouse mystery... what's not to love? Follow our protagonist Maggie as she gets away from, and keeps one step ahead of, her "bad guys" as she unravels an ancient mystery! Just remember your sunscreen and beach hat. Enjoy!
I have been honored to have this book compared to Dan Brown and Diana Gabaldon by no less than a Kirkus critic. It's similar to Dan Brown in that it describes a cat-and-mouse adventure between an unsuspecting victim an an obscure, rogue Catholic cult. It has been compared to Diana Gabaldon because of it's strong, resilient, female Scottish protagonist. If you like books of that genre - with some strong emotional component - you just very well may love this heroine, Maggie.
I write what I can describe, and I feel most confident describing places I have been - places that I know. I have stayed in Italian rooms with double shutters. I have stood at the wall in Assisi and stared in wonder at the fields below. I have walked cobbled streets is small Scottish hamlets, visiting the green grocer, then the butcher, then the baker. I have been on the University of Michigan campus and walked Cranbrook. I can recall peering up cobbled and winding narrow streets admiring the arched wooden doors and the spills of flowers tumbling off windowsill planters. Being able to smell the air and notice small facts, I think, adds such truth and sincerity to a story.
I know that "letting go" seems to logically be followed by "moving on." I am not sure that is exactly true. I think that a heart never lets go of true, deep, perfect love. Even if a person is forced - chooses - to move on, that doesn't mean they have actually let go. No, they move their love to a different part of their heart: a sacred, cherished and protected space where it will always remain. A place that they can return to with fond, sometimes bittersweet, memories of a very special time... a very special person.
The Kirkus critic found "powerful emotional satisfaction" in this "cozy mystery." Here's what else was said: "...the pacing is quick, and the element of travel provides rich backdrops and description. Readers will find the unfolding story charming and ultimately affirming... a satisfying synthesis of mystery, history, and emotion."
My protagonist, Maggie, grew up in a very protective family. Being so protected allowed her to safely fight the constraints placed upon her. She had faced no true challenges - until a fateful day in September. Maggie's discovery of her own inner strength and resilience is a strong undercurrent throughout this cozy mystery/action novel. It is a study in how a person, when faced with adversity and danger, can rise to the occasion.
I had such a good time writing and researching this: a few facts that might be of interest: yes, there really was an Alan Fitzwalter, second steward of Scotland. Yes, he fought in the Third Crusade with Richard the Lion Heart. He did have a son a couple of years older than our little Francesco. And a few generations beyond him, his direct descendant decided to adopt the last name Stewart and claim the throne of Scotland. Bonnie Prince Charlie was his direct descendant.
Please don't be too offended by the language on the first page: it is the only profanity in the entire book. It just happens to fall in the second paragraph. Here is this book's latest review: hopefully it will pique your interest! "Wendy Thomson’s The Third Order is a fine novel that works on a number of levels—as a thriller, an adventure novel, a Dan Brown-like fusion of historical and religious conspiracies, an archeological mystery, a critique of how ideals are tarnished and betrayed, and above all a sensitive portrait of a resilient and resourceful woman who must rebuild her life after a tragic accident. The story is exciting and multi-layered, racing back and forth between countries, continents, and centuries—all handled deftly by the author. The characters are well-drawn and memorable, particularly (for me) the contemporary main character, Maggie, and a battle-weary twelfth-century Scottish warrior whose large spirit helps change the course of religious history. I highly recommend this engaging and fast-moving novel." - 5 stars, Don Levin at goodreads.com
Our heroine Maggie is driven to understand the amulet in her possession and the reason she is being pursued for it. She decides an important key lies in Assisi. Although she speaks no Italian, she is undaunted. Bound and determined, she is off to learn more.
I fell in love with Assisi when I was there performing a concert many years ago. This flashback takes us back to a young St. Francis - before he was a saint, before he was a soldier... when he was a youngster dreaming of becoming a Knight Templar. He did eventually become a soldier. This except imagines a young Francesco meeting an idol.
I have met several people in my life with significant emotional issues: people who have OCD. People who are significantly Bi-Polar. People who are narcissistic, people who are Histrionic. This character is patterned after an unfortunate man that used to live next to me. He was a classic hoarder and had fairly severe OCD. He also was poor at recognizing limits and tried to overcome his discomfort around others by chortling at the most inappropriate times. He also would stop mid-sentence and break into Hail Mary Full of Grace. He is very real, and here I captured the idiosyncrasies he exhibited. I also called the cops on him once for discharging a weapon in his back yard and also peering into my windows, hands up against the glass around his face so he could look in. Quite creepy.
Little does Maggie know that this chance discovery would lead her on adventures never expected. The article depicted is an accurate description of a shape found in ancient Pictish carvings. I took great pains finding true-to-history facts from which I wove this story. The research was at least as rewarding as writing the book.
No matter how many times I read this, it makes me smile. There is something so tender and heart-warming about the bloom of fresh, young love.
I recently received this review, and I am at a loss for words at how humbled and honored I am. "Amazon Customer 5.0 out of 5 stars Gabaldon to Thomson! September 26, 2018 Captivating. If you love Diana Gabaldon, you will love Wendy Thomson! Well researched to really make the moments and events have color and flavor. Enjoy!
I am personally quite fond of having a reader follow an innocent story, just drifting along, and then.... BAM. Something entirely unexpected happens - right before the chapter ends. If a reader is sleepily reading along, enjoying a benign story, it really wakes them up. Like Haydn's Surprise Symphony. :-)
When I was very small I wanted dearly to be a dancer. I had been given a book about a little girl and ballet. I can still vividly remember it - and because of it, day after day, I would practice first position, second position... I would imagine that my protagonist is what that dreaming little would have been, had she been able. What we can't be, we can always create in the written word.
I love true love - the kind of love that is deep, and easy, and comfortable. Maggie and Ben have that love. This except comes from the opening lines of this book, which is full of twists and turns and surprises. This is a chick-lit book: it has romance, a wide range of experienced emotions, a fair share of drama, suspense, and adventure.
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